Resolution calls for lockdown lift

Published 6:19 pm Friday, May 1, 2020

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The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners may get the chance Monday to vote on a resolution declaring Beaufort County open for business.

The resolution, put forward by Commissioner Hood Richardson, objects to the “one size fits all” approach Gov. Roy Cooper employed with the statewide stay-at-home order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which went into effect March 30 and has been extended until May 8. The resolution also states Cooper’s plan to reopen North Carolina for business is not reasonable, and cites the reasons of financial suffering, denial of non-virus-related health care procedures, religious worship denial and abuse of constitutional rights shared with commissioners by Beaufort County residents.

Entitled “Resolution Lifting the Economic Shutdown and Returning Business and Related Activities to Normal,” the resolution echoes similar sentiments put forward by the Gaston County Board of Commissioners last week. The Gaston County board passed its resolution opening the county up, which it then clarified the following day, saying Cooper’s statewide stay-at-home order remained in effect. At the time, Fred Porter, a spokesman for the governor, responded to the Gaston County order, saying, “This order’s only effect is to create confusion during a public health emergency, which is dangerous. The Gaston County order itself says that the statewide stay-at-home order remains in effect, and state leaders urge people to continue following it.”

Richardson’s order, however, as printed in the agenda for Monday’s meeting, contains language indicating the county would declare exemption from the statewide order, which is partially based on the overall low number of COVID-19 infections in the county. As of Friday evening, Beaufort County has had a total of 22 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county, with no more than seven active cases at any point during the last several weeks.

“Therefore, Be It Resolved, effective immediately, the lockdown orders by Governor Cooper are deemed null and void in the County of Beaufort and all citizens of Beaufort County are free to resume their activities as they were before March 27, 2020,” the resolution reads, adding that county residents should apply and use recommendations issued by the health department and other agencies for personal protection. It states the county would reserve the right to revise the resolution should Beaufort County COVID-19 infections trend upward. It also implies that, should the resolution be passed Monday, any county employee enforcing the statewide stay-at-home order over the county’s resolution could be fired on the spot.

The meeting of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners will be held Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the boardroom at 136 W. Second St., in Washington. Seating will be limited due to social distancing measures.